A heartbreaking little glimpse at an old social institution: The foundling hospital. The most affecting room at one of my favourite Paris Museums documented the history and fallout of the institutionalisation of child-dumping, complete with lazy-Susanesque “foundling wheels” for easy (and anonymous) drop-offs. One display case showed letters from distraught parents, torn in zigzags, saying “we’ll come back for her with the matching half as quickly as we can”. Impossible not to be moved.
“My Dear Good Sister, please accept this little outcast son of mine trusting with God’s help that I will be able to sustain him in your institution. I would not part with my baby were it in any way possible to make a respectable living with him, but I cannot . . . his name is Joseph Cavalier.”